What is the function of the liver?
Your liver is an important organ with many life-sustaining functions. liver:
Produces bile which aids in digestion.
Produces protein in the body.
Converts nutrients into energy.
Produces substances that help blood clot (adheres to wound healing).
It helps fight infections by creating immune factors and removing bacteria and toxins (substances that harm the body) from the blood.
What is fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver disease (steatosis) is a common disease caused by the accumulation of too much fat in the liver. A healthy liver contains less fat. Problems arise when fat reaches 5-10% of liver weight.
Why is fatty liver disease bad?
In most cases, fatty liver disease does not cause serious problems or prevent your liver from working properly. But in 7-30% of people with this disease, fatty liver disease worsens over time. It goes through three stages:
Your liver becomes inflamed (swollen), causing tissue damage. This stage is called steatohepatitis.
Scars form where your liver is damaged. This process is called fibrosis.
Extensive scarring replaces healthy tissue. At this point, you have cirrhosis of the liver.
Cirrhosis is severe liver damage. Hard scarring that replaces healthy liver tissue slows liver function. Eventually, it can completely shut down the liver. Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
What are the types of fatty liver disease?
There are two main types of fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease caused by alcohol
Fatty liver disease occurs due to excessive alcohol consumption. (Moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.) About 5 percent of people in the United States have this form of liver disease.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs in people who do not drink alcohol excessively. It affects one in three adults and one in 10 children in the United States. Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of fatty liver disease other than alcohol. Several factors can increase your risk, including obesity and diabetes.